Spending a night under the stars: A guide to trekking up and camping at Osmeña Peak

At 1,013 metres, Osmeña Peak is one of Cebu’s highest peaks and is a popular trekking and camping spot for both local and foreign tourists. It offers an amazing vantage point to view the surrounding mountains and sea on both sides, and the sunsets and sunrises are spectacular.

Most visitors make a day trip out of Cebu City or Oslob to reach the summit. But spending a night here is an entirely different experience. This guide will explain how to prepare for an overnight camp, and what to expect while spending a night in the Mother Nature’s backyard.

Climbing to the top of Osmeña Peak
Climbing to the top of Osmeña Peak

Getting to Osmeña Peak

Getting there is pretty straightforward, as it first involves a road trip (1.5 to 2 hours from Oslob, 3 to 4 hours from Cebu City) along the coast, turning off at the town of Dalaguete and then up the mountains inland. Stopping off where the road ends, a rocky trail will guide you to a small hut, where you’ll need to pay an entrance fee of 30 Pesos per person.

If you’re coming by the Ceres bus serving the Cebu City – Bato route, ask to be stopped at Dalaguete Junction and hire a habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) from there.

Riding a scooter up to Osmeña Peak
Riding a scooter up to Osmeña Peak

Gearing up for camping

Before heading to the hut though, enquire at the nearby shops / food stalls about renting a tent for the night. It should cost 400 Pesos, and you should also purchase any additional supplies for the overnight stay. At the very least, purchase 2 liters of water per person and some snacks for dinner and breakfast.

A proper hot meal can be a morale booster when camping in the great outdoors. Campers are not allowed to make bonfires, so bring along a gas stove or a solid fuel stove to cook. Oh, and ingredients to cook of course. Alternatively, stop by Dalaguete along the way and buy all the cooked food you’ll need for dinner. Getting whole grilled chicken from the street vendors is highly recommended, and it only costs 200 Pesos.

A satisfying dinner of grilled chicken and beer
A satisfying dinner of grilled chicken and beer!

Trekking up and setting up camp

From the hut, embark on a 20-30 minute easy trek to the top of the mountain. At the hut, you can also hire a guide to show the way, and take awesome photos along the way and at the summit. The recommended price is 200 Pesos for an official guide, or a small tip of between 50 to 100 Pesos if you engage any of the young kids loitering nearby to be your informal guide.

Our enthusiastic guide, Glenn
Our enthusiastic kid-guide, Glenn

Before you complete the final 50m push to the top, you’ll need to set up camp at the nearby campsite. For the novice camper, your guide can help you with the task of selecting a good ground and setting up the tent.

On weekends, the campsite will be pretty busy with locals making camp for the night. If you lack something, a fellow camper might be able to help. But on a weekday, you might end up being the only ones pitching a tent there. Well, I speak from experience:

Camping in Osmena Peak
Few locals camp on a weekday, so you may be the only tent in the campsite.

 

Catching the sunset from the top

After the tent is set up and secured, make you way up the peak and join the crowd of other visitors jostling for the best photo-taking spot. As the sun sets over the horizon (and yes, you can literally see the horizon from Osmeña Peak), people will start leaving before the place turns pitch black.

Since you’re all prepped up to camp overnight, you can now have the peak all to yourself (and your fellow campers). Soak in the views from all around, and pay attention to the jagged peaks sticking out of the ground in the distance. Very similar in appearance to the famous Chocolate Hills of Bohol, this adds yet another layer to the surreal and starkly beautiful landscape.

Sunset at Osmeña Peak
A brilliant sunset at Osmeña Peak
The landscape is reminiscent of the Chocolate Hills in Bohol
The landscape is reminiscent of the Chocolate Hills in Bohol

The camping experience

As twilight turns to darkness, head back to camp for dinner and rest. This campsite does not come with proper facilities nearby though – so you’ll need to figure out the best time and place to do your Number 1 and Number 2. (This is a world away from the campsite at Doi Angkhang)

At night, the temperature will drop dramatically, reaching a low of 16°C in the middle of the night in March. Wear enough layers and winter wear, or bring along a proper sleeping bag to keep the heat in.

Throughout the night, low clouds will roll in and out. If you’re here to stargaze, you’re in luck as the night skies are absolutely amazing. But when it turns foggy, retreat into your tent and hang in there. With luck, the stars will return in an hour or so, or just set your alarm every few hours to check on the visibility conditions outside.

Safety Tips

You’re more or less on your own at the campsite, and any help will take time to reach you. Stay safe and do not venture up the peak or near the mountain edge in darkness.

Here’s more tips for an enjoyable and safe camping trip:

  • Do not feed stray dogs in the campsite, unless you want to spend the night with a four-legged companion following you everywhere.
  • Bring a headlamp and free up your hands. You’ll need both of them to hold your plate and eat, and more importantly, to steady yourself while you wipe after doing a Number 1.
  • Don’t throw food out of the tent. You may attract wild animals to come to the campsite.
  • Don’t make a bonfire on the ground. If the nearby bushes catch fire, you may be hauled to the court like these guys.
  • Mark your trail and bring a buddy, if you need to walk out in a fog. If you venture too far, you may lose your way and end up far from the campsite.
First rule of climbing mountains: Don't trek and snap!
First rule of climbing mountains: Don’t trek and snap!

Be the first to see the sunrise

In Cebu, the sunrise happens before 6am. Set your alarm for 5.30am and start dressing up for a chilly morning. You’ve braved the night in Osmeña Peak, so enjoy your reward of catching the sunrise view all to yourself.

As you perch yourself at the lookout point, day visitors will start streaming in. These are the equally determined folks who have woken up at 4am, hired or rented a motorbike to make the trip up the mountains, and made it in time for the sunrise. But no matter… you got here first.

The sunrise is equally amazing
The sunrise is equally amazing

As the shades of red and pink melt into white, it’s time to pack up and leave. In 2 hours time, you’ll be launching off rocks and jumping into plunge pools upstream from the Kawasan Falls.

It’s canyoneering time.

(Check out the full 4-day itinerary in Cebu and Bohol)

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